“Mmm, that tastes more-ish,” grinned Grady Hughes, as he taste-tested his wife Edra’s savory home cooking. In the Hughes family, “more-ish” came to mean “so delicious, you want another bite.”
Two generations later, self-proclaimed foodist Erin Eisenrich ’11, the granddaughter of Grady and Edra, recently translated her passion for the culinary arts into an entrepreneurial venture. After deciding against spending the first part of her senior year studying for the LSAT, Eisenrich instead took on the production of More-ish, a magazine created to “point its readers to unique and meaningful dining experiences that are so yummy you want another bite.”
“There are a lot of unknown places around College Station that my friends hadn’t heard of,” Eisenrich said. As an enthusiast of local dining, she was well informed about area restaurants. She started a Facebook group to discuss restaurants with her friends and fellow foodists. “By the end of the night, it had over 200 members,” she recounted. That number eventually grew to over 1,000 people who logged in weekly to read Eisenrich’s reviews of local eateries.
Followers eventually began requesting access to past reviews, so Eisenrich turned to blogging, creating thefoodistreviews.com.
She toyed with the idea of a book, then discussed the idea of a magazine with her family. “We took off from there.”
More-ish was produced in seven weeks, start to finish.
Despite her eventual success, such a rapid turnaround time meant a significant set of challenges for Eisenrich and her small staff: sister and marketing director Emily Eisenrich ’12, photographer Emily Kiel ’09, and a pair of designers.
The first two challenges for the team were to choose a printer and a name. Once those issues were settled, they looked to a larger challenge looming ahead — selling advertisements to fund the magazine.
One of the first lessons that Eisenrich learned was that restaurant owners wanted to help, but with the demands of a quick turnaround, might not have the time or resources to buy an ad. However, she said, “If I could fully explain to them the vision of the magazine and help them to see that, then they would get really excited. Getting past that pointâ€¦that was the hardest part.”
Eisenrich also had to reach out for help in other ways. Two weeks before the magazine went to print, she hired the design duo Drifting Creatives, Gavin Braman ’09 and Martin Hooper ’09, who worked intensely until the night before Hooper’s wedding. When the magazine came out, her parents helped with the distribution. In one weekend, Eisenrich’s team distributed 8,000 of the 10,000 copies.
Though she says there were hard moments, Eisenrich believes all the challenges she encountered were worthwhile. She learned valuable skills along the way about photography, print, layout, and advertising, sales, finance and management. “It was sort of like eight different kinds of internships all in one,” she says.
And despite all of the challenges, “Somebody always pulled through. Different people along the way got very excited and stuck with it.” Ultimately, she said, “It was just a lot of fun.”
Her just desserts
As a topping to all the great learning experiences, one of the huge rewards for Eisenrich has been the unexpected response to More-ish. “They are flying off the shelves,” she says. “We’ll stick them down in some obscure corner of a restaurant and they’re gone — 125 copies just disappear.”
In addition, she has received laudatory phone calls, gets frequent positive postings on the More-ish Facebook page and has had constructive feedback from the restaurants that she reviewed. Another issue is already in the works and many restaurant owners are asking what they need to do to be featured. You can’t buy your way into a good review, though, says Eisenrich. Her pen and her palate are not for hire so that she can maintain the integrity of her publication.
More food advocate than food critic, she explained, “If I don’t like a place, I don’t write about it. I want to give people great places and really good experiences.”
Eisenrich loves hearing that her readers carry a copy of the magazine in the car with them as a reference guide for when they want a quick bite somewhere new. Like a serving of tasty home cooking, it has left quite a few people with a desire for More-ish.